This is an annual thing.
Every year around the 15th of January, I realize my joyous foray into the world of mashed potatoes, gravy, and baked goods has changed from something wonderful as in "the holidays are coming" to something mildly depressing with sinister undertones.
"Drop that cracker lady and step away from the asiago cheese dip!"
In the spirit of that, my husband and I spent this morning wandering around our favourite heath food store. Or, as I like to call it, doh dodey oh dohing.
For the unitiated, doh dodey oh dohing can occur in any kind of shopping venue. Whether it be a convenience store, home electronics mart, or a health food emporium, with the prerequisite for doh dodey oh dohing being that one must wander slowly down the aisles and look at every item available. In doing so, the dodey oh doher must find some kind of a treasure that (a) doesn't cost much and (b) he or she would never have considered purchasing prior to visiting the store.
This morning the man I married scored a box of Andrew Weil's instant oatmeal, something called Happy Tea, and some beautiful organic avocados and peppers - taking my mind in the direction of something fresh, healthy, and Latin for tonight's dinner.
Loaded with all this good stuff, though, and talking of things like silky black beans and chutney, we both started to feel a little hungry and decided to take ourselves out for lunch. I was craving a bowl of Wonton soup, but my husband - God bless him - felt like chicken.
Normally this would have meant he'd be ordering chicken flavoured wontons, but since he was the one who scored the Happy Tea, I decided to give up my dreams of soup and put forth my newly enlightened resolution to be a better "Giver" in the New Year - thus taking us both the Swiss Chalet.
Where we each ordered the quarter chicken dinner as pictured above.
Except the service was slow. Our dinners didn't come with the advertised special dipping sauce or side salad, we had to wait an extra ten minutes to flag down a waitress to get the situation rectified, and after all that, the dipping sauce wasn't even really that good.
But at no time did I as "Giver" feel inclined, to complain or make reference to the superior service at the Japanese restaurant where we usually get our wonton on.
Instead, staring across the table at the man I vowed to love for life as he dabbed a little special sauce off his chin, I was filled with complete happiness.
Good old fashioned kick your heels up, hug a bunch of trees joy.
I had made happiness a choice.
Instead of complaining, I decided to enjoy the moment and go with the flow letting lunch unfold as it would, and we both ended up having a great time - go figure.
I realized, I had turned a corner in my "self medicating with pie crust" January blues and re-committed to feeding both my mind and soul with ingredients that were fresh, healthy, and maybe a little spicy - because as the chilly winds threaten to keep us indoors for a few more months, there's nothing like a little flavour to give meaning to our days.
Swiss Chalet notwithstanding.
I have to tell you, the following recipe inspired by the fresh avocados and peppers was very good. I adapted it from Whitney Miller's original recipe as featured in the MasterChef cookbook to rave review from my husband.
Fish Tacos with Mango Chutney
For printable recipe click HERE
- 1 ripe mango, halved and cubed
- 1 diced red pepper
- 1/2 diced onion
- 1/2 small jalapeno pepper finely chopped
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- juice of two limes
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the mango, red pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, lime juice and vinegar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for twenty minutes or until the chutney thickens. Stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Ingredients for the Black Beans
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 small jalapeno pepper finely diced
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
- juice of one lime
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Mix in the beans and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir in the cilantro. Cover to keep warm.
For the Taco
- 2 tbsp Emeril's creole blend
- 2, 8 ounce white fish filets (cat fish, basa, halibut)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8 flour tortillas
- 1/2 cup mixed field greens or shredded romaine lettuce
- 1 ripe avocado, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup Hellman's Real Mayonaise
Pour the 2 tbsp creole blend into a pie plate. Dredge both sides of the fish pieces in the spice mixture to evenly coat and tap off excess.
Brush a large non stick pan with oil and place over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, lay the fish in the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for 3 minutes longer or until the fish is completely cooked through.
To serve: Put two tortillas on each plate and spread all over with mayonnaise. Top with a heaping spoonful of the black beans. Divide fish among the tortillas. Put a spoonful of the chutney on top and garnish with the lettuce, avocado, and cilantro.